Carbon Capture Pilot Turns CO2 into Green Building Materials

by | Aug 26, 2013

VTT logoScientists in Australia are trialling a carbon capture system that turns emissions into green building materials, while a consortium led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland says it has created a more economical and ecological carbon capture system for use at power plants.

The Australian CO2 mineral carbonation research pilot plant will be established at the University of Newcastle to trial a new technology that transforms captured CO2 emissions into forms of carbonate rock for potential use as new green building materials in the construction industry.

The technology mimics and accelerates the Earth’s own carbon sink mechanism by combining CO2 with low-grade minerals to make inert carbonates, which are similar to common baking soda. The solid products can be used in various applications including building materials like bricks and pavers, according to Mineral Carbonation International, the organization behind the process.

MCi has received funding to establish the research pilot plant and undertake further industrial and fundamental research into mineral carbonation technology.

MCi will conduct the project over four years with a budget of AUD $9.12 million ($8.24 million), with funding of AUD $3.04 million ($2.74 million) each from the Australian and New South Wales governments and industry partner Orica Limited.

In Finland, VTT’s Flexi Burn CFB project has developed and successfully demonstrated an oxyfuel combustion concept based on circulating fluidized bed combustion.

The advantages of circulating fluidized bed combustion include high efficiency, fuel-flexibility and the option of using a large proportion of biomass in the fuel, VTT says. The increased price of energy and exhaustion of good-quality fuel reserves mean it is currently more profitable to use lower-quality fuels. The fuel-flexibility enabled by this new technology will reduce dependency on imported coal and create cost savings, since cheaper options, including waste coal, can be used for fuel, VTT says.

In addition, the same power plant can continue operation also when capture is impossible — for example, during temporary outages of the CO2 transport and storage facilities — thus reducing the investment risk, VTT says. There is not yet a single commercial-scale carbon capture plant, but the sector is aiming higher all the time. Last week, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. appointed Germany’s Linde Group to build the largest carbon capture facility yet proposed.

SABIC affiliate United Jubail Petrochemical Company hopes to capture about 1,500 tons a day of carbon dioxide from ethylene plants, and use it in SABIC petrochemical plants, Reuters reports. SABIC also aims to supply liquid carbon dioxide to the food and drinks industry.

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